Rural women are regarded as integral in agro-ecological practices, knowledge systems and methods. They have vast knowledge in agricultural processes such as pest management, harvesting, selecting and preserving seeds for the next crop, soil enrichment and so on. They are the seed keepers, traditional healers, livestock keepers, and forest gatherers. They have knowledge on the diverse kinds of plants and their special values for taste, nutrition, and health. Their knowledge of plant varieties extends to wild plants that are regarded as survival plants in dire times, as traditional medicine and as sources of income. Learning by experience, and experimenting and innovating when faced with problems, they have developed a vast amount of knowledge, particularly on seeds, and varied skills in agriculture over generations, and have provided food security and nutrition to millions of families.
The far-reaching consequences driven principally by corporations hungry to make profit from Asia’s agricultural resources correspondingly eroded the local knowledge and roles of women in farming systems. The threats of the Green Revolution, the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and new technologies, especially Genetic Engineering (GE) are now radically displacing the farmers of their remaining access and ownership of genetic resources, particularly of seeds. GE particularly replaces the traditional sustainable seeds radically displacing women farmers from their roles in production, as caretakers of seed resources, and as preservers of traditional knowledge in farming and in biodiversity conservation.
Rural women, together with farmers and indigenous communities have resisted and continue to resist against the instrumentalities that drove their displacement, further loss of seeds and erosion of traditional agriculture. The areas of struggle have steadily widened -- from women protesting against the incursion of TNCs to resisting the use of agro-chemicals; from opposing the entry of GE seeds to promoting and documenting local and traditional knowledge systems; from initiating seed exchanges and developing seed banks to lobbying existing international conventions and treaties that serve as tools for advocacy and platforms of resistance.
PAN AP has, over the years, continued to promote and support biodiverse ecological agriculture that find important the efforts to recover and reclaim the rights of women in sustainable agriculture. Pushing for this is a process of empowerment for rural women. Being key food producers in agricultural communities, it is the women’s assertion of rights to land, seeds, water and other resources - a crucial step towards reclaiming women’s knowledge and skills and a process of recognizing their roles and contribution in agricultural production.
Module on Documenting Women’s Knowledge in Agriculture
Women's Wisdom: Documenting Women’s Knowledge in Ecological Agriculture in Pakistan
Women’s Wisdom: Documentation of Women's Knowledge on Ecological Agriculture in the Philippines, Indonesia and Pakistan
Women's Wisdom: Documentation of Women's Knowledge in Ecological Agriculture (Case studies from Philippines, Pakistan and Thailand)